Stanley L. Olsen
Stanley L. Olsen

Augustana College
Sioux Falls, SD

Stanley L. Olsen
Chair of Moral Values

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Some Traditional Background Material

Jacob Bronowski, The Ascent of Man, Chapter 6: "The Starry Messenger," Little, Brown, and Company, Boston, 1973.

Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543) published De Revolutionibus in 1543, proposing that the sun is at the center of the planetary system, and that the earth revolves around the sun rather than the other way around.

Thomas S. Kuhn, The Copernican Revolution: Planetary Astronomy in the Development of Western Thought, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1957.

For a chronology of Galileo's life, click here.

Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) developed or improved the telescope in 1609, and began to use it (with 30X magnification) to observe the heavens. He discovered several satellites (moons) of Jupiter. In 1610 he published Siderius Nuncius, The Starry Messenger, telling of his observations.

Galileo claimed that Copernicus was correct: the earth revolves around the sun, rather than the sun and the rest of the universe revolving around the earth as the stationary center.

In 1632 Galileo published the Dialogue on the Great World Systems.

In April 1633 Galileo was brought to trial by the Inquisition. He was threatened with torture, but was not physically tortured. Galileo was persuaded to recant, which he did in June 1633.

Galileo was under house arrest for the rest of his life. In 1638 his last book was published, the Discourse on Two New Sciences, in the Netherlands.

Galileo died in 1642. Isaac Newton was born in England on Christmas Day in 1642.

350 years after the death of Galileo, a process initiated by Pope John Paul II in 1984 led to the rehabilitation of Galileo in 1992.

A related book, recently popular, is
Dava Sobel, Galileo's Daughter: A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith, and Love, Walker and Co., New York, 1999.

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